Pope Francis sacks Kerala priest from all duties who raped minor

Pope Francis has sacked Kerala priest Robin Vadakkumchery, a rape convict, from all priestly duties and rights.

Vadakkumchery, who was the priest of St Sebastian Church at Neendunoki, in Kerala’s Kannur district, was last year convicted of raping a minor girl. He was jailed for 20 years and fined Rs 3 lakh by the Thalassery Protection of Children from Sexual Offences court for committing the heinous crime.

“From now on, he won’t have any priestly rights and duties. He will be known as Robin Vadakkumchery,” Fr Jose Kocharakkal, official spokesperson for the Catholic diocese of Mananthavady told the Time Of India.

Kocharakkal said Pope Francis expelled Vadakkumchery from the priesthood on the basis of a report submitted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome on December 5.

The ousting of a priest of the Catholic Church from the clerical state is a permanent measure reserved for the most serious offences. Only the Pope has the power to do so.

Vadakkumchery was suspended from priestly duties by the Catholic diocese of Mananthavady on February 27, 2017, after receiving an unknown call to the Childline in Kannur district.

According to the Time of India, the caller said a minor girl had delivered a baby at a hospital run by the church, and that the child was immediately shifted to Holy Infant Mary’s Foundling Home at Vythiri in Wayanad district. Later, Vadakkumchery was held by Kerala Police on February 28 from the Kochi airport while trying flee from India. He is serving his sentence at Kannur central jail.

In February last year, the court held Robin Vadakkumchery guilty of three charges — two under POCSO (The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act 2012 and one under Section 376 (2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The priest was accused of raping a minor girl in May 2016 at Neendunoki near Kottiyoor. She gave birth to a child at the church-managed Christu Raj Hospital in Koothuparamba on February 7, 2017.